“My name is Tina J Renton, I am 37 years young and a mum to two grown up sons and a much loved 14 year old Cairn terrier dog named Artee.
During my childhood I experienced serious sexual abuse and rape at the hands of my step-father. I was first sexually abused at the age of 6 which continued until I was 14.
It stopped when I told a teacher at my school. Telling someone something I had kept hidden for so long was the hardest thing to do, but I knew I would be helped and I would no longer have to endure the rapes. For the first time, I could begin to be a child.
I was sent home to tell my mum knowing at last I would be safe. However, this was not meant to be as my step-father was moved back in within two days, and again I was left to feel worthless and alone. The system had unfortunately failed me, and so did my mum. I thought I just wasn’t special enough to be loved by my mum or anyone else.
By the time I was 14 I knew that I was alone and I would need to fight for everything I would want or need in my life. All my life I had fought to be strong but now the abuse had stopped I needed to be stronger than ever.
I became a mum at 19 and had my second child a year later. I knew I would protect my sons like I should have been protected. While my children were young I trained to be a counsellor, I wanted to learn to understand what had happened to myself and also to be able to help other people.
By the time I was 30 I found myself doing an access course at my local college to enable me to further my education and go to university…a tall order for someone that left school at 16 with very poor grades, but I was determined to achieve, after all I am a fighter.
When my eldest son was 10yrs he was struggling at school, I was struggling to cope and the result was my boy being permanently excluded from school. Once again the fighting side of me came out and I challenged the school, I felt they had failed my son and his education needs. I won the appeal, my son was not in the wrong and I knew it! This event in my life was life changing – a flippant comment from a professional body “your parental representation was the best I have ever seen, have you ever considered being a lawyer?”
So after relocating 60 miles to another part of Essex to make a fresh start for my sons education, before I knew it I was enrolled to study a law degree at the University of Essex.
After a tough 3 years I graduated with a 2.1 LLB Law degree and the knowledge that the abuse I had suffered as a child could still be reported. So in November 2009 I reported my abuser to the police. After a trial in June 2011 my step-father was found guilty and sent to prison for 14 years, I finally got justice!
My story made the headlines from the local paper to national press. I released my name and my story to allow other victims to know that regardless of the time that has passed, it is never too late to seek help.
It was through this process I was offered a chance to put my story into words and write a book. I had never thought of telling my secrets to everyone before, but when I was approached to do so, it just felt like the right thing to do to help other child victims of crime. I knew my story would give other people hope and that was very important to me. I now have a book published called ‘You Can’t Hide’.
This however is not where my story stops, I have not yet used my qualification to go on to become a lawyer, maybe one day I will, but I do know that I want to continue to work to help other people, both children and adults. This is where my involvement with ‘Embrace CVOC’ begins – I am very passionate about helping others, I have a vast amount of professional and personal experience allowing me to understand the pain of being a child victim of crime. While no one should ever suffer any type of crime, children should be allowed to be children for as long as possible. Once a child has experienced the trauma and distress of a criminal offence they should have all the help in the world to become a child once again. ‘Embrace CVOC’ provides children with the practical and emotional support required to start that healing process, and I believe I can play an important part of that and I am looking forward to becoming actively involved with this remarkable charity’s work.“
If you’re a young person and can relate to Tina’s story, you may want to speak to someone. You can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 – whatever your worry, it’s better out than in.